Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Enjoying the Season

For those of you that have been reading December's posts, we are now at 81 holiday cards sent, approximately 30 received. It's not necessary to do this, but I like to keep track of the cards our family sends and receives in a simple Excel spreadsheet. My Mom uses a spiral bound notebook.

We are now in the midst of Hanukkah and hope our Jewish clients are enjoying the season. Our Christian clients will celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent in just a few days on Christmas Eve this year.

I am sure some of you are still scurrying around to take care of last minute holiday preparations, but we hope that most of you are able to take time to enjoy the season, friends and family.

In my family, we are expecting houseguests to arrive tomorrow evening. With the exception of a little cleaning and food preparation, we are ready for our visitors and are enjoying this holiday season. The only thing missing is a little snow to set the mood, but we will have to make do with our holiday decorations instead this year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Spicy Holidays

In yesterday's post I was hoping for a windfall of holiday cards in my mailbox. That didn't happen. Today's count: 81 cards sent, 13 received. I did receive a card from my brother's family for the first time in 7 years. Perhaps my sister-in-law reads this blog?

If you plan to be baking or cooking this holiday season, I hope you will make it spicy. Nothing is worse than stale spices.

It came to my attention through fellow NAPO members that McCormick has some great guidelines of their website regarding the shelf life of spices. Of course, their intentions aren't all altruistic, but if you have McCormick cinnamon in a square box you had better toss it as it's at least 15 years old!

Those of you that know me know that I am not much of a cook, but our family's spices sure are organized. If you want to see for yourself click on the organizing page at Simply Organized Life.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Finding the Time

As of today the holiday card count at my house is 81 sent, 11 received (see yesterday's post). I am hoping for a windfall in today's mail.

Finding the time to write holiday cards, or take on any holiday project, doesn't need to be complicated. You do need to plan ahead.

Before our family writes a single card, I make sure we have all of the materials together in one place. This includes: pens, stamps, address labels, return address labels, our family photo and of course, the cards! Our "holiday card kit" is kept in the same place every year and I try to gather all the "pieces" prior to Thanksgiving. Then, whenever we get 10 or 15 minutes here and there, we can write a card or two.

Here's another example. If your holiday project is baking cookies, you would want to do the same by having all of the ingredients on hand before you pull out the mixing bowl. Use your calendar to remind you to check the pantry for ingredients a few weeks prior and add needed items to your regular shopping list. A little planning saves tons of time in the long run.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Cards

In our household we love to send holiday cards. We are traditionalists when it comes to these cards: no form letters and every card gets a handwritten note. As of yesterday, we have mailed 80 cards to friends and family in five countries. So far, we have only received 7 cards in return, so I hope at least some of our friends read this blog.

Now you may be wondering, "How in heaven's name does she find the time?" With planning and a simple system in place, it can be quite easy. I will share my secret in the days ahead.

Some years ago, I created created a template in Microsoft Word for Avery mailing labels. You can do this using the "mail merge" feature if you keep your addresses in Microsoft Office or type them in manually. The labels save tons of time in comparison to writing each address and you can print from the same template every year. Throughout the year, I make sure to update the list when someone moves. Prior to Thanksgiving our family reviews the list to determine who we will send cards to that year.

If you plan to send cards in time for Hanukkah, you might squeeze in under the wire. If you are sending Christmas cards, the US Postal Service recommends mailing first class letters by December 18, 2006. So, you still have time to get your card to us!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Tips

This blog was started in 2005 to share Simply Organized Life's 10 Tips for Stress Free Holidays (or at least holidays with less stress).

Here's a refresher on the 10 Tips:
1) Keep it Simple
2) Plan, Plan, Plan
3) Use a Calendar
4) Make a Financial Plan (and stick to it!)
5) Declutter your Space
6) Ask for What you Want (and ask others what they want)
7) Give Clutter Free Gifts
8) Accept Imperfection
9) Remember the Reason for the Season
10) Have Fun!

To learn more about each of the tips, please click on the archives for November 2005 and December 2005. Rather than repeat this in 2006, in the days ahead I will share other tips for stress free (or stress less) holidays.

Monday, December 04, 2006

December Newsletter

We hope all of you that are signed up to receive our monthly e-newsletter (to sign up click here) were able to receive the December edition of Your Simply Organized Life. We had some technical difficulties that should now be resolved.

We have one correction regarding Carolyn's mini-seminar on kitchen organization and the meal assembly session to be held at 7 p.m. on January 11, 2007 at Ann Arbor's Main Dish Kitchen. The minimum charge for the seminar and to assemble 6 meals is $120, while the charge for the seminar and 12 meals is $209. Each meal serves approximately 4~6 people, which is a bargain at about $5 per serving.

To see photos from our last meal assembly session at Ann Arbor's Main Dish Kitchen, click on the August 2006 archives at right.